The Deeper Significance of Revolution

From Krishnamurti’s Book COMMENTARIES ON LIVING 2

The daily pattern of life was repeating itself around the only water tap in the village; the water was running slowly, and a group of women were awaiting their turn. Three of them were noisily and bitterly quarrelling; they were completely absorbed in their anger and paid not the slightest attention to anyone else, nor was anyone paying attention to them. It must have been a ritual. Like all rituals, it was stimulating, and these women were enjoying the stimulation. An old woman helped a young one to lift a big, brightly polished brass pot onto her head. She had a little pad of cloth to bear the weight of the pot, which she held lightly with one hand. Her walk was superb, and she had great dignity. A little girl came quietly, slipped her pot under the tap, and carried it away without saying a word. Other women came and went, but the quarrel went on, and it seemed as though it would never end. Suddenly the three stopped filled their vessels with water, and went away as though nothing had happened. By now the sun was getting strong, and smoke was rising above the thatched roofs of the village. The day’s first meal was being cooked. How suddenly peaceful it was! Except for the crows, almost everything was quiet. Once the vociferous quarrel was over, one could hear the roar of the sea beyond the houses, the gardens and the palm groves.

We carry on like machines with our tiresome daily routine. How eagerly the mind accepts a pattern of existence, and how tenaciously it clings to it! As by a driven nail, the mind is held together by idea, and around the idea it lives and has its being. The mind is never free, pliable, for it is always anchored; it moves within the radius, narrow or wide, of its own centre. From its centre it dare not wander; and when it does, it is lost in fear. Fear is not of the unknown, but of the loss of the known. The unknown does not incite fear, but dependence on the known does. Fear is always with desire, the desire for the more or for the less. The mind, with its incessant weaving of patterns, is the maker of time; and with time there is fear, hope and death. Hope leads to death.

He said he was a revolutionary; he wanted to blast every social structure and start all over again. He had eagerly worked for the extreme left, for the proletarian revolution, and that too had failed. Look what had happened in the country where that revolution was so gloriously accomplished! Dictatorship, with its police and its army, had inevitably bred new class distinctions, and all within a few years; what had been a glorious promise had come to nothing. He wanted a deeper and wider revolution to be started all over again, taking care to avoid all the pitfalls of the former revolution.

What do you mean by revolution?

‘A complete change of the present social structure, with or without bloodshed, according to a clear-cut plan. To be effective, it must be well thought out, organized in every detail and scrupulously executed. Such a revolution is the only hope, there is no other way out of this chaos.’

But won’t you have the same results again – compulsion and its officers?

‘It may at first result in that, but we will break through it. There will always be a separate and united group outside the government to watch over and guide it.’

You want a revolution according to a pattern, and your hope is in tomorrow, for which you are willing to sacrifice yourself and others. Can there be a fundamental revolution if it is based on idea? Ideas inevitably breed further ideas, further resistance and suppression. Belief engenders antagonism; one belief gives rise to many, and there are hostility and conflict. Uniformity of belief is not peace. Idea or opinion invariably creates opposition, which those in power must always seek to suppress. A revolution based on idea brings into being a counter-revolution, and the revolutionary spends his life fighting other revolutionaries, the better organized liquidating the weaker. You will be repeating the same pattern, will you not? Would it be possible to talk over the deeper significance of revolution?

‘It would have little value unless it led to a definite end. A new society must be built, and revolution according to a plan is the only way to achieve it. I don’t think I will change my views, but let us see what you have to say. What you will say has probably already been said by Buddha, Christ, and other religious teachers, and where has it got us? Two thousand years and more of preaching about being good, and look at the mess the capitalists have made!’

A society based on idea, shaped according to a particular pattern, breeds violence and is in a constant state of disintegration. A patterned society functions only within the frame of its self-projected belief. Society, the group, can never be in a state of revolution; only the individual can. But if he is revolutionary according to a plan, a well-authenticated conclusion, he is merely conforming to a self-projected ideal or hope. He is carrying out his own conditioned responses, modified perhaps, but limited all the same. A limited revolution is no revolution at all; like reform, it is a retrogression. A revolution based on deduction and conclusions, is but a modified continuity of the old pattern. For a fundamental and lasting revolution we must understand the mind and idea.

‘What do you mean by idea? Do you mean knowledge?’

Idea is the projection of the mind; idea is the outcome of experience, and experience is knowledge. Experience is always interpreted according to the conscious or unconscious conditioning of the mind. The mind is experience, the mind is idea; the mind is not separate from the quality of thought. Knowledge, accumulated and accumulating, is the process of the mind. Mind is experience, memory, idea, it is the total process of response. Till we understand the working of the mind of consciousness, there cannot be a fundamental transformation of man and his relationships, which constitute society.

‘Are you suggesting that the mind as knowledge is the real enemy of revolution, and that the mind can never produce the new plan, the new State? If you mean that because the mind is still linked with the past it can never comprehend the new, and that whatever it may plan or create is the outcome of the old, then how can there ever be any change at all?’

Let us see. Mind is held in a pattern; its very existence is the frame within which it works and moves. The pattern is of the past or the future, it is despair and hope, confusion and Utopia, the what has been and the what should be. With this we are all familiar. You want to break the old pattern and substitute a ‘new’ one, the new being the modified old. You call it the new for your own purposes and manoeuvres, but it is still the old. The so-called new has its roots in the old: greed, envy, violence, hatred, power, exclusion. Embedded in these, you want to produce a new world. It is impossible. You may deceive yourself and others, but unless the old pattern is broken completely there cannot be a radical transformation. You may play around with it, but you are not the hope of the world. The breaking of the pattern, both the old and the so-called new, is of the utmost importance if order is to come out of this chaos. That is why it is essential to understand the ways of the mind. The mind functions only within the field of the known, of experience whether conscious or unconscious, collective or superficial. Can there be action without a pattern? Until now we have known action only in relation to a pattern, and such action is always an approximation to what has been or what should be. Action so far has been an adjustment to hope and fear, to the past or to the future.

‘If action is not a movement of the past to the future, or between the past and the future then what other action can there possibly be? You are not inviting us to inaction, are you?’

It would be a better world if each one of us were aware of true inaction, which is not the opposite of action. But that is another matter. Is it possible for the mind to be without a pattern, to be free of this backward and forward swing of desire? It is definitely possible. Such action is living in the now. To live is to be without hope, without the care of tomorrow; it is not hopelessness or indifference. But we are not living, we are always pursuing death, the past or the future. Living is the greatest revolution. Living has no pattern, but death has: the past or the future, the what has been or the Utopia. You are living for the Utopia, and so you are inviting death and not life.

‘That is all very well, but it leads us nowhere. Where is your revolution? Where is action? Where is there a new manner of living?’

Not in death but in life. You are pursuing the ideal, the hope, and this pursuit you call action, revolution. Your ideal, your hope is the projection of the mind away from what is. The mind, being the result of the past, is bringing out of itself a pattern for the new, and this you call revolution. Your new life is the same old one in different clothes. The past and the future do not hold life; they have the remembrance of life and the hope of life, but they are not the living. The action of the mind is not living. The mind can act only within the frame of death, and revolution based on death is only more darkness, more destruction and misery.

‘You leave me utterly empty, almost naked. It may be spiritually good for me, there is a lightness of heart and mind, but it is not so helpful in terms of collective revolutionary action.’